Matching Grant Challenge
alexPureWhen I met Alexander Cockburn, one of his first questions to me was: “Is your hate pure?” It was the question he asked most of the young writers he mentored. These were Cockburn’s rules for how to write political polemics: write about what you care about, write with passion, go for the throat of your enemies and never back down. His admonitions remain the guiding stylesheet for our writers at CounterPunch. Please help keep the spirit of this kind of fierce journalism alive by taking advantage of  our matching grant challenge which will DOUBLE every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, CounterPunch will get a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate. –JSC (This photo of Alexander Cockburn and Jasper, on the couch that launched 1000 columns, was taken in Petrolia by Tao Ruspoli)
 Day 19

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Set Him Free!

Obama, Mandela and Leonard Peltier

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

Barack Obama has taken his two daughters on a dramatic visit to the Robben Island cell once occupied by Nelson Mandela.

Let’s hope he takes them next to the one now occupied by Leonard Peltier.

Mandela was famously held by the apartheid South African government for 27 years. He became a global symbol, then president of his nation.

Mandela was charged, among other things, with attempting to overthrow a government, which he admitted.

For 37 years, Peltier has consistently denied the charges against him, which arose from a native American resistance action at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

His bitterly contested 1977 conviction in the killing of two FBI agents came in Fargo. Peltier has since been held under extremely harsh circumstances in a variety of US prisons. He has been denied a wide range of basic rights, been severely beaten, and can’t get much-needed medical care. Now in his late sixties, Leonard’s health has dangerously deteriorated.

As an indigenous activist, Peltier has been deemed a political prisoner by Amnesty International and numerous other human rights organizations.

Over the decades, a mountain of evidence has surfaced to back his case. His “trial” was a travesty of injustice. At least one of the judges who once denied his appeals for freedom has reversed his stance.

As president, Bill Clinton was thoroughly briefed on Leonard’s case. To his everlasting shame, he pardoned the financier Marc Rich (who has just died) but failed even to insure Leonard a fair trial. The government admits that for “national security” reasons it continues to hide large volumes of evidence from public scrutiny. (See Jeffrey St. Clair’s The Clintons and the Rich Women for a thorough account of the Rich pardon.)

Leonard’s continued incarceration is a slap at the native community, and all those who believe in due process of law. His presence over the decades has been distinguished by a legendary dignity and grace. Among the many writings and films he’s inspired, Peter Matthiessen’s IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE remains the mainstay tribute to a remarkably steadfast spirit.

President Obama’s silence on Leonard’s case casts a long shadow over his visit to Robben Island. Amidst his many tributes to Nelson Mandela, Obama seems to have overlooked—we hope temporarily—that Mandela himself has asked that Peltier be given justice.

So have the Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Parliaments of Europe, Italy and Belgium, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and many more. Before he passed away three years ago, Judge Gerald W. Heaney of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his previous opinion and joined those asking that Peltier be freed.

Most who support Peltier want his immediate release. Some ask that at very least he finally be granted a fair trial, with all the evidence made public. If the government insists on continuing to hold him in the interim, they ask he at least be moved near his Anishnabe and Dakota/Lakota people.

Leonard Peltier has been in jail so long he has grandchildren and great-grandchildren he has never seen.

Obama has said “the world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit.” He was, he said, “humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield.”

It’s time for the President to show similar courage in the case of Leonard Peltier.

Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and many others have already demanded no less.

You can write Leonard Peltier directly at #89637-132, USP Coleman 1, US Penitentiary, PO Box 1033, Coleman, FL 33521.

Harvey Wasserman, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com